DataTouch Offering New Service to Help Collision Repair Shops Manage Access to its Data
Written by John Yoswick, Autobody News
Published July 11, 2022
Pete Tagliapietra is sympathetic to collision repairers whose customers have found accident information about their car on a vehicle history report.
But Tagliapietra said that’s only a small subset of what he sees as a much larger concern of shop estimate data being obtained, used and sold by unauthorized third parties.
“It’s my belief that most shops are oblivious to how much estimate information is being scraped off their computers, giving third parties a wealth of knowledge about how that shop does business,” said Tagliapietra, founder of the newly-launched DataTouch, LLC. “Even just a small set of a shop’s estimates tells someone whether or not the shop has DRPs, and if so, which ones. It tells them the labor rates the shop has negotiated with different insurance companies. It shows who the shop is buying parts from, and at what price. It also shows what kind of cars the shop repairs, and what cars the customers in that geographic area buy and drive.”
All that, Tagliapietra said, is even aside from the customer’s personal identification information on the estimate, which a growing number of states have mandated businesses take adequate steps to protect.
“If I owned a body shop, I wouldn’t want third parties to know all of this---how I run my business and with whom---and to be able to use it or sell it without my authorization, and clearly even in ways that are not in my best interest,” he said.
Tagliapietra said it’s his belief “the CARFAX issue”---estimates resulting in entries on a vehicle’s history report---and all the other third-party use of shop information are the result of thousands of “data pumps” running on shop computer systems across the industry.
“Data pumps have become prolific,” Tagliapietra said earlier this year. “It’s gotten out of hand, from my point of view, because the data has become so valuable. Most shops probably have an unauthorized data pump, or more likely multiple data pumps, that are sucking the repair line information and personally identifiable information off of every estimate they write.”
A shop may have authorized the installation of some or all of the data pumps running on its computer system, because they can help automate some shop processes, such as sourcing alternative parts, subletting repairs or materials. In other cases, the shop may not be aware of a third-party vendor installing a data pump, or that a data pump installed by a company the shop is no longer doing business with continues to scrape estimate data from the shop’s computers.
“But the data pumps themselves are only the first part of the problem,” Tagliapietra said. “The real issue is that shops can’t control what portions of an estimate get scraped by those data pumps. A parts vendor doesn’t need your labor rate information or the customer or insurer name nor even the entire VIN, yet they get all that. A CSI provider doesn’t need anything other than the basic customer contact information, yet they get all the estimate line items and subtotals. A remote scanning company doesn’t need anything other than the complete VIN to identify the specific vehicle and the ADAS functions on that vehicle.
"Too much of a shop’s information is going to too many third parties---often without the shop’s knowledge or consent---and that information has significant value to those companies that can get it.”
Tagliapietra founded NuGen IT and sold that company to OEConnection in 2020. He is launching DataTouch this summer as a potential solution for a shop that wants to get a better handle on who has access to its data. For a one-time fee, DataTouch can audit a shop’s computer system to identify what data pumps are operating on it.
“They’re often hidden well enough that unless someone knows what they’re looking for, they’re not going to find them,” Tagliapietra said.
The shop then has the option to subscribe to the DataTouch monthly service, which enables the shop to administer by trading partner which portions of estimate data go to each third party. A recycler, for example, may only receive a parts list and the year, make and model of the vehicle, and the first 11 digits of the VIN.
“That’s enough information to run it through a parts exchange and supply the part,” Tagliapietra said. “When a shop picks up a phone and says, 'I need a left front fender for a 2004 Chevy Tahoe,' the recycler doesn’t say, ‘Give me the VIN.’ So why when ordering electronically does the shop send them the entire estimate and all of that information?”
DataTouch also will assist a shop in deleting data pumps that are obsolete or not approved by the shop.
Tagliapietra said he believes DataTouch will put collision repairers back into better control of their estimate and business information, and better able to protect their customers' privacy as well.
“We can help shop eliminate the possibility of trading partners sharing repair information to unauthorized entities, such as vehicle history reporting companies and so much more,” he said.